Week Eleven Predictions
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Wow, week eleven is here. The sound of that - "week eleven" - makes me think of late-season key games and BCS implications. This year has flown by, and in just a couple of more weeks the regular season will wrap up. I haven't picked nearly as well this year as I have in Pick'em Contests of the past, and I am not sure why that is. Maybe the game is just as unpredictable now as it ever has been! Anyway, the law of averages says I will finish strong, bringing me up closer to my career average of roughly 71%...So with a mission to rock out these last three weeks, here are my choices for the games of week eleven...
* All times Eastern, all rankings BCS
Arkansas at #8 South Carolina - 12:00 - CBS - All eyes will be on Kenny Miles, the fifth-year senior USC running back who will take over for injured Marcus Lattimore. Miles was the starter way back in 2009, but then Lattimore became a Gamecock in 2010 and Miles has been the backup ever since, seeing playing time here and there. But now, it is his turn once again to carry the rock as the main man...I see South Carolina taking care of a bad (if that) Arkansas team and Miles picking up some yards and confidence in the process. South Carolina, 30-10.
Missouri at Tennessee - 12:21 - ESPN3.com - I get the feeling that this might be the last meeting between these two coaches. I don't know who will go first - UT's Derek Dooley or Mizzou's Gary Pinkel - but neither are knocking it out of the park right now to put it nicely. Pinkel is 12-10 in his last 22 games, while Dooley has won just four of 17 SEC games in almost three seasons. Anyway, to the game itself, I will go with UT. Why? I don't know. But Mizzou doesn't give me much to go off of either, and the Vols are at home. Tennessee, 33-27.
Georgia Tech at North Carolina - 12:30 - ESPN3.com - With a win, UNC should crack the Top 25 polls in Larry Fedora's first season as head coach. Standing in the way, though, is one of the pestiest teams (no pun intended) in the conference. The Jackets have had an off year, but Paul Johnson's running game/control-the-clock offense can annoy the tar out of people (again, no pun intended). In this one, I am rooting for UNC to put another ACC team into the Top 25. But it will be tough. UNC, 27-20.
Arizona State at #19 USC - 3:00 - Pac-12 Network - I would expect some points to be scored here. Both teams rank in the Top 25 offensively, and just a week ago USC gave up 62 at home to Oregon. Both teams are also still alive to win the Pac-12 South. The vibe I get is that USC fans are already twiddling their thumbs a bit with Coach Lane Kiffin, and a loss at home here to an average ASU team would not help that one bit. I think they survive, though. USC, 38-35.
#11 Oregon State at #14 Stanford - 3:00 - FOX - This could be the toughest pick of the day. With Oregon running away with the Pac-12 North, it is highly unlikely that this game will factor much on that. But it is a football game between two fine teams who have a 14-3 combined record coming in. The two teams ride their defenses, both ranking in the top 20 nationally in points allowed. As usual, I will pick the home squad in what should be a hard-fought game too tough to pick. Stanford, 20-17.
Penn State at #16 Nebraska - 3:30 - ABC regional - Husker fans who are on the fence with Bo Pelini will have to give the coach some credit if he wins this one. Though the Big Ten is down this year, a win by Nebraska would all but lock up the Legends Division for Big Red, keeping NU in the national spotlight. In their way is a PSU squad that has had a better season that many anticipated. The Lions enter at 6-3 and have the nation's 14th best defense in the points allowed category. This should be a pretty good game between two traditionally strong programs. I think Nebraska - at home - is the best choice. Nebraska, 31-24.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State - 3:30 - ABC regional - When I went to type this capsule, it caught my attention that neither team was ranked. I am so used to these two squads being in the Top 25 that it was odd to see that both have gotten banged up enough this year to no longer be up there. Anyway, regardlesss of a lack of ranking, this should be a doozy! Two high-powered offenses (OSU 8th, and WVU 9th, in points scored per game) will go at it from Stillwater. Defense is something that gets thrown out the window a lot in the Big 12, and I think that will be the case here. Home team in a shootout. Oklahoma State, 50-49.
#15 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama - 3:30 - CBS - Johnny Manziel, freshman QB for A&M, is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the nation. He has burst onto the scene here in 2012 with 16 passing TDs and another 15 rushing TDs. The dude is a special player, no doubt about it. But while he is a special player, Alabama is a special team, and in this one - at home - I have to go with the defending champs. I think Manziel will lead the Aggies to a few more points than Bama is used to giving up, but in the end, the Tide roll easily. Alabama, 33-20.
Maryland at #13 Clemson - 3:30 - ESPNU - After a pile of injuries at QB, the Terrapins are now starting a freshman linebacker under center to face the Tigers in Death Valley Saturday. You almost have to feel bad for the guys. Clemson, meanwhile, will start Tajh Boyd at QB. Boyd ranks fourth in the nation with a 170.2 QB rating. Advantage: Clemson. Another couple of advantages for the guys in orange are home-field advantage and enough skill players to satisfy the needs of both teams. In this one, unless CU comes out flat (which won't happen), the Tigers win big. Clemson, 46-17.
#5 Georgia at Auburn - 7:00 - ESPN2 - UGA fans have to be sweating bullets over this one. Here they are, one win from a date with Alabama in the Georgia Dome for the SEC crown, but playing a night game in a hostile environment against a talented team that has under-achieved all season long. Yes, Auburn, who has had their worst season in decades, would love nothing more than to wreck what has turned out to be a huge season for the Bulldogs. Can the Tigers do it, though? I'm not sure. I think this will be a stressfest for Dawg fans, but in the end, they will in fact secure a trip to Atlanta. Georgia, 27-21.
#2 Kansas State at TCU - 7:00 - FOX - This is most-likely the stiffest test between a perfect season or not a perfect season for the Wildcats, bowl game aside. The Horned Frogs have lost a few games this season, but they are disciplined and have some guys that will play on Sunday. They also have home-field advantage, and like KSU's Bill Snyder, they have an outstanding coach in Gary Patterson. However, in this one, I will go with KSU because I am uber impressed with QB Collin Klein and his leadership abilities. Kansas State, 38-28.
#21 Mississippi State at #7 LSU - 7:00 - ESPN - Can Mississippi State make it three straight? I think they can! The Bulldogs got off to a 7-0 start, but back-to-back thumpings from Alabama and Texas A&M have turned a dream season into a nightmare quickly. LSU - at night in Baton Rouge - is not what the doctor ordered. I see the Tigers dealing Mississippi State their third straight L, meanwhile setting themselves up for an ouside shot at the BCS by the time things play out. LSU, 30-21.
#3 Oregon at California - 10:30 - ESPN - The Ducks know they are playing for style points right now to get themselves into the national title game, so they will be wide open. Yes, in college football anything can happen, but I really see very little that can slow down the Ducks offense. One thing that is worrisome is that the Duck D will give up large point totals also, but I still don't see them being out-gunned, especially by a mediocre Cal team. Oregon, 47-33.
#18 UCLA at Washington State - 10:30 - ESPN2 - Bruin head man Jim Mora has fared a lot better in his first year (7-2) than his counterpart in this matchup, Mike Leach (2-7). Can Leach turn it on here coming down the stretch and break through for his first Pac-12 win? We'll see, but in this one I think he will have to wait. UCLA is scoring points in gobs (37 ppg) and will be able to score that and more against a weak Cougar defense giving up 32 ppg. UCLA, 37-27.
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